Friday, February 2, 2018
Ben Partridge
Brianna Burds, UI Mandela Washington Fellowship Program logistic Support Dimy Doresca, Director, UI Institute for International Business, Mandela Washington Fellowship Program Director Kimm Harris, Lecturer, Mandela Washington Fellowship Program Venture S

Fellowship Partners' Retreat, Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2018. From left to right: Brianna Burds, UI Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, logistical support; Dimy Doresca, director, UI Institute for International Business and Mandela Washington Fellowship Program; and Kimm Harris, lecturer, Mandela Washington Fellowship Program Venture School Lead

The University of Iowa is proud to announce that, for the third year in a row, it has been selected as an Institute Partner for the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Beginning in mid-June, the UI will host 25 of Africa’s brightest, emerging business and entrepreneurship leaders, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

The UI is one of 27 institutions chosen this year to host the larger group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows (selected from the more than 37,000 applicants) visiting institutions across the United States this summer. 

"The fellows learn a tremendous amount and develop connections while they are here in Iowa," says Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of UI International Programs. "But perhaps more importantly for the future, they serve as mini-ambassadors for Iowa when they return to Africa.  And our International Business program within the Tippie College of Business is tapping them after they return to work with UI students on projects that help our students gain global skills and real-world knowledge."

Working closely with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, the UI will offer academic and leadership programs that will challenge, inspire, and empower these young leaders from Africa. The fellows will spend six weeks in Iowa, participating in entrepreneurial education programs on the UI campus, as well as touring the state to learn more about operations, management, and business strategies in the United States--information that will assist them in business ventures in their home countries. Following their visit, the fellows will meet in Washington, D.C., for the fifth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where they will take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. 

"This program has had a significant impact on Iowa and Iowa City in particular in internationalizing our community and in connecting our companies with the continent of Africa," says Dimy Doresca, director of the UI Institute for International Business. "It’s so great to have the fellows coming again this summer. We look forward to this new cohort of 25 young African entrepreneurs mingling with the Iowa City community this summer."

With the help of a grant from the State Department to support the visit, the program is delivered and administered by the Institute for International Business, a partnership between the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) and the Tippie College of Business. UI International Programs, in partnership with the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC), will provide cultural and logistical support to the fellows during their stay. 

“We are very excited to be hosting another group of young African leaders and innovators through the Mandela Program," says David Hensley, executive director of Iowa JPEC.  "We benefit greatly by learning from them and identifying long-term opportunities for innovative educational, scholarly, and business development partnerships.”

"It's been the highlight of the summer the past two years," says Jo Butterfield, executive director of CIVIC. "The program creates opportunities for CIVIC volunteers to introduce the fellows to our vibrant community, learn about the fellows' home countries and, in the process, forge new friendships."

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement. Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has brought 3,000 young leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaborations with U.S. professionals.